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pjf (2464)

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I run Perl Training Australia [].

I help with Melbourne Perl Mongers.

I spend an awful lot of time talking about Perl, and have had my picture in the Australian newspapers with a camel. That's rather scary.

Journal of pjf (2464)

Sunday May 08, 2005
03:10 AM

Money, time, and happiness - revisited

[ #24579 ]

Money, time, and happiness - revisited
In some of my earlier journals I contemplated the cost of living, and the value of time. I try to be profoundly lazy by spending an incredible amount of time working. The reason this is considered laziness is that the money I can earn (and accrue interest on) can be used to allow me to have much longer periods without working. My goal is ultimately to have enough savings that I won't need to work again.

Overall that goal is progressing very well, however I spent today contemplating an option that almost runs against the concept of being lazy and working hard. I'm contemplating working less, and retiring later; a kind of false laziness, if you will.

My previous thoughts were mainly concerned with the conversion of time into money and vice-versa. Passive income was also considered, but it takes time and resources to establish. However what I had not fully dwelled upon was the enjoyment of working. This would seem like an important area of consideration, since if one truly enjoys working there is little reason to think of retirement.

My previous thoughts glossed over enjoyment because, much to my good fortune, my most enjoyable work is also my most profitable. It was easy to curb our development and sysadmin work in favour of training, because training was both more profitable and satisfying.

For most 'regular jobs', the enjoyment issue is a straightforward one as well. If you can move to a more enjoyable job, and keep the same hours and wage, then you'd do so unless there were compelling reasons otherwise. If you can move to a more highly paid, but less enjoyable position, then you need to make a simple decision as to how much that extra pain is worth to you. That doesn't mean the decision is an easy one, it's often very hard to tell if an alternative job is going to be enjoyable or not.

My work is a little different, in that my job is made up of a series of smaller jobs, many with different rates of pay and enjoyment. Some tasks I can even assign to others. Many of my efforts thus far have been around maximizing income, since that will get me to any given retirement option the soonest.

However, my thoughts now are around curbing work and replacing it with free time. Enjoyment now is just as important (if not more so) than enjoyment in the future, and increasing free time is the most obvious way to increase enjoyment. This had always been an idea on my 'gradual retirement' plans, but I had never given serious thought as to how hard it would be. In fact, I don't think I yet have the required framework to make optimal decisions.

I suspect that I want to organise matters to maximize 'total enjoyment' (integrated over an entire lifespan). In a simple system where time working is worth zero enjoyment, and time not working is considered full enjoyment (1 enjoyment unit), then doing as much work as possible at the beginning (and investing the results) is optimal, since it maximizes the amount of enjoyable time that can be gained from investments.

However, when one has a range of work available, some of it more enjoyable than others, the solution changes. If one has a small amount of work that is reasonably enjoyable (say 0.8 enjoyment units), and a large amount of work that is unenjoyable (zero enjoyment units), then the optimal solution may be to work a much longer time, but only on that enjoyable work. One would need to know pay-rates and investment returns in order to properly solve this problem.

I can currently rank my available work in terms of volume, potential volume, profit per hour, and enjoyment. Three of these terms volume, potential volume, and profit per hour are already expressed in quantitative figures, however I don't have any such figures for enjoyment. While I can say that I enjoy doing X more than Y, I can't yet map those rankings into figures.

How does one quantiatively measure enjoyment, anyway?

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